And so starts another month. But November marks not just another month, but also a change of season. As the clocks go back, so the horses get older, and bigger, and stronger, and run further, and generally jump more things.
Yes, it’s National Hunt time again.Â
Some of the bigger stables are starting to roll out their heavy artillery, with a view to blowing off the cobwebs and an eye to fatter, more prestigious pots down the track.
This afternoon’s Haldon Gold Cup reflects that seasonal debutant feel with a cracking renewal, both in depth and in quality. Six of the seven runners are rated 148 or higher over fences, and collectively they’ve won seven Grade 1 or 2 chases.
Younger progressive horses tend to hold slight sway in this, which brings in the top three in the weights, Captain Chris, Ghizao and Medermit, all of whom are seven-year-olds.
Thirteen of the last fourteen winners either finished in the first three last time, or pulled up (generally at one of the Festival meetings the previous Spring).
And twelve of those fourteen had been off the track for at least four months. Alas, that does little to whittle the field size.
However, the record of the top weights (five from sixteen) is quite impressive and points to Captain Chris’ obvious chance.
Ultimately there’s very little on form or trends between the trio highlighted above and, with all three stables in fine form too, it’d be a brave man who piled in to any one of them. For smaller money, and as the biggest of the three prices and a horse who goes well fresh, Medermit is a token selection.
But this is a race to watch and savour first.
Bringing down the curtain on what has been a fantastic flat season of racing is this weekend’s Breeders Cup from Churchill Downs, Kentucky. Now I know it’s not everyone’s caramel latte, but me, I love it. The main reason I’m such a fan, aside from frequently getting the chance to head over there and cheer Euro’s, is because it offers the kind of payoff opportunities that we normally only associate with the likes of the Cheltenham Festival.
There are some serious bucks to be made in both the ‘horizontals’ (exacta, trifecta, superfecta) and ‘verticals’ (Pick 3, 4, 5, 6).
If you’ve no idea what I’m talking about, basically most people in the US bet ‘exotics’, or multi-horse bets. In plain English, they rarely bet to win, or each way (known as win, place and show). Nope, they want the juicy returns associated with picking the first two (or three or four) home in the right order; or the winners of three (or four or five or six) consecutive races.
The pools of money bet are huge, and the depth of competition in the races virtually guarantees long priced horses appearing somewhere in the sequences.
It all adds up to a) a lot of fun, and b) a potential bumper payout!
I shall be all guns blazing both nights (Friday and Saturday) and am working out my strategies after last night’s post position draws. Later this week, I’ll be bringing you some more thoughts on the Breeders Cup, and my ‘Bisogno Bulletin’ readers will get the full skinny on what I’m thinking across all races.
More on that to follow. But for now, just to say I’ve today published the November edition of the Bisogno Bulletin, and you can sign up for it if you want to, here: the Bisogno Bulletin. (It also includes some jumps and AW trainers to follow this month, an update on the whip rules, and a sneak preview of a piece of software I’m currently testing which is nearly ready for release).
Once the Breeders Cup races have been won and lost, and with them multiple wagering fortunes, it’s back to the serious business of jumps racing, and the first big Cheltenham meeting of the season, the Open, which runs from 11th to 13th November.
The Paddy Power Gold Cup is the Saturday feature, and this is well supported by a Grade 2 juvenile novice hurdle; another Grade 3 handicap chase; as well as a Listed handicap hurdle and a usually informative novice chase.
It’s always packed with pointers for the ‘homecoming’ in March, and geegeez will have its eyes peeled for clues throughout.
The following weekend, 18th to 20th November, sees more high class action from both sides of the Irish Sea, as Ascot host the Coral Hurdle amongst others, and Punchestown get their star-studded season into full swing.
Yes, oh yes, the jumps season is upon us!
Now if you’re into jumps racing, and you live in or near to London, you might be interested in joining me and plenty of other like-minded racing fans at the London Racing Club National Hunt preview night.
Chaired by Andrew Barr of Racing UK and Racing Post, the panel also includes William Hill’s spokesperson, Kate Miller; jump jockey Leighton Aspell; and, ATR pundit, Matthew Taylor.
There’s a fully licensed bar downstairs (naturally!), and it promises to be a fascinating evening. It’s a fiver for non-members, free for members, and if you’d like to come along more regularly you can join on the night.
So that’s next Tuesday, 8th November, at the Kensington Forum (Holiday Inn) Hotel, just behind Gloucester Road tube station. I’ll be there, so do say hello if you’d like to. Should be a cracking night!
Just time for a quick reminder that the TrainerTrackStats season kicks off this afternoon, with a couple of decent chances for an early score at Exeter.
As well as the trainer goodness, Gavin is also giving away an excellent all weather jockeys’ report, plus he’ll be sending further goodies in future days, as follows:
SCHEDULE FOR FREE BONUS GUIDES
THURSDAY 3RD NOVEMBER: BREEDERS CUP TRENDS
TUESDAY 8TH NOVEMBER:Â CHELTENHAM JOCKEY & TRAINERS GUIDE
THURSDAY 10TH NOVEMBER:Â PADDYPOWER CHASE TRENDS
SUNDAY 13TH NOVEMBER:Â AW JOCKEYS GUIDE
If you’ve not joined up yet, and might be interested, you can read all about it here: TrainerTrackStats 2011/12 plus special guests.
Finally, with the first day of November comes the coronation of the October Manager of the Month in our Fantasy Football competition. And in what proved to be a hum-dinger of a cliff-hanger of a climax to the monthly prize, Neil Brookes’ 62 Saddlers (presumably a Walsall fan of a certain vintage?) monster haul of 87 points in the final week fell short by just a single unit.
Neil’s October monthly total of 246 was one shy of the 247 scored by… not sure. Team name is lucky? and the manager name is Maybe MaybeNot. If that’s you, well done, do get in touch to sort your prize, as ever generously provided by our friends at ucantlose.co.uk (Note, you’ll need to prove it’s you! 😉
In the overall competition, Maybe MaybeNot’s performance takes him / her up to 4th place, still a good 42 behind runaway leader, Bob Gates, and his Lukaura United tally of 614.
To put that in context, it’s good enough for position #703 out of the 2,594,916 total entrants!
At a respectable distance of 24 points back is Paul Scott’s Real Salfordians, on 590 points, and still in the top 4,000 globally.
Excellent work chaps.
Elsewhere, yours truly’s September rally has faltered and I’ve slumped out of the top 100, and into 106th position with a paltry 450 points.
Still, it could be worse. Propping up everyone else in 223rd place is Mark Robinson’s Cleveland Marks. In fairness to Mark, he didn’t start until week 4 and won’t be bottom for long. The same cannot be said of John Lennox’s We Are United who, frankly, must try harder… a bit like their Old Trafford counterparts, maybe?
That’s all for today. Like I say, I’ll be back later in the week (Thursday, most likely) with some more thoughts on the Breeders Cup for those who are interested in such things. And of course, don’t forget to look out for ‘Well I Declare’ tomorrow (big winners again last week crowned by a 161/1 treble for Keith Dalgleish at Wolves).